Rural round-up

04/02/2021

Pandemic’s silver lining – Anne Boswell:

The recognition of farmers’ contribution to New Zealand’s food production system has been identified as a positive aspect of the covid-19 pandemic experience, according to a new study released by AgResearch.

One farmer experienced “a change in attitude among the public around how they value the security of food production and therefore the role of farmers in providing that food.”

Others noted “NZ agriculture is starting to be seen as an important cog in the mechanism again,” “greater recognition of the true value of agriculture and primary producers,” and “governments and communities recognised the importance to our standards of living that agriculture provides plentiful safe food and fibre.”

The study, conducted by AgResearch scientists, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and several science organisations in NZ and Australia, surveyed farmers and others working in the agriculture and food systems in Australasia about the impacts of covid-19 in the period through to June 2020, which included national lockdowns. . . 

Outlook for 2021 ‘bristling with risk’:

Amid significant global turbulence, New Zealand agricultural producers are poised to enjoy a fifth consecutive year of general profitability in 2021, according to a new report by Rabobank.

In the bank’s Agribusiness Outlook 2021 report, Rabobank says while the outlook for the year is “bristling with risk”, and bumps are anticipated throughout the coming months, most agricultural sectors can expect to see average to above-average pricing, manageable cost inflation and production holding up well.

Report co-author, Rabobank senior dairy analyst Emma Higgins says that as 2021 gets underway, the world is still turbulent for New Zealand’s agricultural sector. . . 

Important for UK to convert trade liberalisation narrative to action as it seeks to join CPTPP:

In welcoming the UK’s application to join the CPTPP agreement, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is stressing the need for the UK to convert its statements of commitment to leadership in global trade liberalisation to meaningful action.

“The UK’s application to join CPTPP is another great sign of its interest in advancing global trade liberalisation. However, the real test of UK trade leadership comes from how it honours its existing commitments and what it is prepared to put on the table in negotiations” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Despite the UK’s strong statements of ambition, including for a high-quality UK-NZ FTA, we are yet to see it remedy concerns about diminished quota access following Brexit and we have detected hesitancy on its part to bringing real liberalisation to the FTA negotiating table. Avoiding a disconnect between intent and action is important if current and potential trade negotiating partners are to have confidence in the UK’s stated ambitions”. . . 

Zespri secures labs for taste tests – Richard Rennie:

Zespri has confirmed several laboratories have been approved for the next three seasons to conduct the vital taste profile tests for kiwifruit, a major component of grower payments.

Zespri’s chief global supply officer Alastair Hulbert says following an intensive three-month procurement process, a range of service providers have been selected for the tests.

They include AgFirst in Hawke’s Bay and Nelson, Hill Laboratories, Linnaeus, Pinpoint Lab Services and Verified Lab Services.

The replacement companies were necessary due to Zespri’s previous lab service Eurofins Bay of Plenty dropping the test at the start of last season, leaving the industry without the valuable test. . . 

Station site of lotus research trial – Yvonne O’Hara:

When the Garden family at Avenel Station say Lotus pedunculatus or Lotus uliginosus, they are not casting Harry Potter spells.

They are talking about the legume, Maku lotus (Lotus uliginosus)

It is a variety of trefoil that has been trialled on a 500ha block on their high country property since 2014.

Pat Garden and his brother Eion had sown lotus on the property in the 1980s.

Subsequently, Pat and his son Nick took part in the more formal research “Legumes for Hard Hill Country” trial, which was funded through the Sustainable Farming Fund, with input from PGG Wrightson Seeds, Grasslanz Ltd, AgResearch’s Dr David Stevens, and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Offal market lifts on pandemic demand – Shan Goodwin:

OVERSEAS demand for lower-value red meat products as the pandemic continues to cut into household incomes has served the Australian offal market well, with prices across the board either firming or stable.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest co-product market reports shows halal kidneys recording the strongest growth, up 93 per cent year-on-year, while lungs and hearts lifted 45 and 28pc, respectively. Halal hearts averaged a solid $3.15 a kilogram, up 70c from December.

Liver prices averaged $1.28 a kilogram, 19c up month-on-month.

On the other hand, premium products such as tongue, thickskirt and rumen pillars eased somewhat. . . 


Rural round-up

08/12/2020

Learning to be brave key lesson – Sally Rae:

Being brave.

That’s something Kate Menzies has learnt a lot about through her involvement over the past decade with the Agri-Women’s Development Trust.

The charitable trust, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, was founded by Eketahuna woman Lindy Nelson.

It supported women through a range of leadership, farming business and personal development programmes and had notched up 4500 graduates in that time. . . 

New Zealand farmers prepare to export ‘best cannabis in the world – Tracey Neal:

Sun, sea and soil: these are the key ingredients for growing New Zealand’s largest-ever medical cannabis crop.

The first seedlings are now in the ground along the salt-laden and sunny slopes of Kēkerengū – just north of Kaikōura.

The ocean-side plantation run by research and development and cultivation company Puro will eventually cover the equivalent of 10 rugby fields.

Fresh out of quarantine, US-based cultivation technician Max Jablonski was last Friday focused on planting the prized seedlings into freshly furrowed, chocolate coloured soil. . . 

Family working out how to keep tracks open :

Merinos and mountain bikes.

Changes are afoot at Matangi Station, near Alexandra, where the Sanders family is seeking to open a commercial mountain bike park over the summer.

As lambing ends and recreational access to the Little Valley property reopens, the family has been grappling with how to keep the tracks behind the town’s famed clock open to the public for years to come.

“We feel we have always had a positive relationship with the community around them utilising our family land, especially during recent times,” Brett Sanders said. . . 

Deep dive gems on N use efficiency – Anne Lee:

A deep dive into Lincoln  University Dairy Farm’s data sets is offering Canterbury farmers insights into what to expect and how they may be able to profitably offset likely pasture production losses expected from the government’s new farm input control – the 190kg/ha/year nitrogen cap. While others were taking up crafts or completing 5000-piece jigsaws during Covid-19 lockdown, DairyNZ scientist David Chapman’s pastime was to crunch the numbers from the myriad of LUDF data sets. They included 2500 grazing events and 1800 fertiliser events.

His specific focus was to interrogate the data on the farm’s shift from using 300+kg/ha/year of nitrogen fertiliser to 168kg/ha/year as it moved to a lower input farming system that also saw a reduction in stocking rate.

Among his surprising finds were a smaller drop in pasture production than expected, a big jump in nitrogen use efficiency and the discovery of previously wasted opportunities for pasture utilisation and feed conversion efficiency. . . 

Seasoned industry leader joins FarmIQ board:

Industry leader, farmer and cattle breeder, Shane McManaway, has taken a place as a director on the FarmIQ board, representing MSD Animal Health. The owner of Gold Creek Charolais stud and past leader of Allflex Livestock Intelligence in Asia-Pacific and China said he welcomes the opportunity to step into the role, at a time when turning farm data into usable information has never been more critical to business success.

“ FarmIQ with its ‘farmer-centric’ approach to data is one of the best platforms for making it possible for companies with data collecting software and technology to hook into, and over time I believe this will only grow.”

Having headed up Allflex Livestock Intelligence for 15 years, McManaway comes with a deep understanding of farm data collection, and the ability to integrate livestock tagging systems to become more than just a compliance box to be ticked. . .

Andrew Forrest secures iconic Kimberley cattle stations as $30 million sale wins final approval

After almost six months, the $30 million sale of two iconic Kimberley cattle stations to billionaires Andrew and Nicola Forrest has been finalised.

The news comes days after West Australian Lands Minister Ben Wyatt approved the land transfer of Jubilee Downs and Quanbun to the Forrest family company.

In July, the Forrests bid more than $30 million to secure the highly sought-after pastoral leases, outbidding 14 interested parties, including a group of Yi-Martuwarra traditional owners who attempted to block the sale.

The stations were formerly owned by a partnership of American billionaire and environmentalist Edward Bass and Kimberley pastoralists Keith and Karen Anderson, who managed the property for more than 40 years. . . 


Rural rround-up

22/10/2019

Rural journalism award :

Allied Press business and rural editor Sally Rae has won the Rural Women New Zealand journalism award..

The award was established to recognise the important contribution women make in rural communities.

Entries in this year’s award had to include two articles broadly based on the theme of ‘‘rural women making a difference’’. . .

Vital animal protein missing from global food discussions – Pam Tipa:

The needs for animal protein in discussions on future nutritious and sustainable food systems seems to be missing from much of the rhetoric, says Jeremy Hill, Fonterra’s chief scientist and technology officer.

That includes the EAT-Lancet report, says Hill, who spoke at the Climate Change and Business Conference in Auckland last week.

Hill said he was speaking in his role as a professor of sustainable food systems at the Reddit Institute.  . ..

They’re committed to their land – Kate Taylor:

A Central Hawke’s Bay family farm is combining bulls and Wagyu steers to make the most of its climate and the most of its family asset. They not only know what they are doing on-farm but also know the supply chain from end to end so can tick all the boxes expected of them. Kate Taylor reports.

Growing quality cattle on an all grass and homegrown fodder system is all that’s needed to keep James Greer happy in his work. 

“Farming is in our blood. Every day is different and every day is a challenge. We love it.”

James and Katherine Greer and James’ parents Jerry and Diana farm 830ha at Argyll east, west of Waipawa. . .

China trade warning – Neal Wallace:

A dollar out every $3 earned from primary products exports comes from China, a scenario that concerns Otago University marketing expert Dr Robert Hamlin.

Treasury has also warned about over-reliance on China, particularly for dairy.

Hamlin says as a rule of thumb no more than 20% of revenue should be earned from one source to ensure a buffer against changes in terms of trade. . .

More stock, less work – Yvonne O’Hara:

Since changing their farming practice to growing all grass year round for full-time dairy grazing, running more than 1000 head of stock was a “doddle”, farm manager Stuart Browning said.

He and wife Kim work for Brian and Glennis Webster, of the Coromandel Peninsula, who bought the 370ha (300ha effective) “Waikite” property next to Waituna Lagoon 11 years ago.

Since the Websters and Mr Browning changed the farming system, they have gone from about 600 stock on crop and grass, to grass only and running nearly twice that number while reducing their workload and making significant feed savings. . . .

One of Wales’ biggest abattoirs to stop processing beef:

One of Wales’ biggest abattoirs is to stop processing beef due to ‘falling volumes, negative margins and spiralling costs of production’.

Randall Parker Foods’ (RPF) abattoir in Llanidloes, Powys is one of Wales’ only beef processors.

It has now made the decision to end beef processing at the plant in what has been described as a ‘another blow’ for the sector. . .


Rural round-up

25/07/2019

Federated Farmers has questions over firearms register:

Misgivings about the practicality and cost of a firearms register is likely to dominate feedback from rural areas on the second round of proposed Arms Act amendments, Federated Farmers says.

The proposals feature a range of tighter controls on firearms ownership and licensing and Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson Miles Anderson anticipates support for many aspects of the changes.

“When firearms are used irresponsibly or illegally in New Zealand, it is often farmers who suffer the consequences through the theft of livestock, poaching of wild animals or the risks of dangerous behaviour. Hopefully some of these proposed changes will help to prevent that,” Anderson said. . . 

The environment comes first – Andrew Stewart:

Running a big station with 3500 owners is a big challenge. But Parengarega Station’s new farm manager Kathryne Easton is adding to the task, with her vision of starting with the environment then working back to the farm with her best-use-of-land philosophy at the same time as coping with pest, pasture and weather issues. She told Andrew Stewart her 
environmental and biosecurity plans include not just the farm but the entire Far North.

It’s fair to say many Kiwis forget how far the country stretches north past Auckland. 

The reality is they can travel another six hours before reaching the tip of New Zealand at Cape Reinga and the further north they go the more diverse and challenging the land becomes. 

Just half an hour south of the Cape lies Parengarenga Station, a diverse, nearly 6000-hectare operation that stretches between both coasts of the country.  . . 

Banks’ caution stymies farm sales – Alan Williams:

Farm sales are at their lowest in the last four to six years, Real Estate Institute figures show.

Turnover for the three months to the end of June was down 24.6% on the corresponding period a year earlier and down 15.3% on the three-month period to the end of May.

The latest June tally was 322, compared with 380 in the May period and 427 for June last year.

The non-dairy farming sector is holding value more strongly than the dairy sector, the institute’s rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

Its All Farm Price Index showed a 2.4% rise from May to June and for the year the gain was 7.3%.  . . 

LIC annual result reflects performance, profitability turnaround :

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) (LIC) announces its financial results for the year ending 31 May 2019.

Reporting a significant increase in profitability, as well as new records in strength of balance sheet, operating cash flow, and total revenue, the co-op will return $15.6 million in dividend to shareholders. This fully imputed dividend equates to 10.98 cents per share and represents a yield of 12.2% based on the current share price of 90 cents. This dividend is up from 1.71 cents last year and is the largest dividend the co-op has paid since 2013.

Board chair Murray King said the result was in line with expectations and reflects a turnaround in the co-operative’s performance and profitability. . . 

Feeding 10 Billion People Will Require Genetically Modified Food – Deena Shanker:

Like it or not, genetic modification is going to be an important tool to feed the planet’s growing population.

If we want to feed 10 billion people by 2050, in a world beset by rising temperatures and scarcer water supplies, we will need to dramatically change the way we produce food. Increased public investment in technologies like genetic engineering is a vital piece of that, according to a report published Wednesday by the World Resources Institute.

Not only must crops be more productive, but the agricultural challenges of climate change—including disease, pests and periods of both drought and flooding—mean they must be more resilient as well. . . 

Future drought fund passes final hurdle in senate – Mike Foley:

After delaying the vote and criticising the policy, federal Labor has provided the necessary support to pass the federal government’s Future Drought Fund through parliament.

The Bill to enact the the Coalition’s rural showpiece policy made its way through the Lower House last night, and today Labor has agreed to approve the legislation in the Senate.

With seed funding of $3.9 billion, the drought fund would grow to $5b by 2030. . . 

 


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